How to Move to Canada from Hong Kong

Last updated: 8 June 2021

Canadian Immigration Option for Hong Kong Residents

Canada offers special immigration and work permit pathways to residents of Hong Kong that aim to strengthen the historical, social, and economic ties between the two sides.

In total, Canada offers over 100 different immigration options. The Campbell Cohen immigration law firm has over 45 years of experience helping Hong Kong residents achieve their Canadian immigration goals. Please contact us for legal advice.

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Table of Contents


New Immigration Pathways for Hong Kong Residents

There are two new pathways to permanent residence for Hong Kong residents who have either worked or studied in Canada. 

These new pathways have taken effect on June 8, 2021 and will expire on August 31, 2026.

Stream A is open to former Hong Kong residents who have graduated from a post-secondary learning institution in Canada within the last 3 years. The candidate must have completed at least 50 per cent of the program while being physically present in Canada, even if classes were online. The candidate:

  • Must have graduated with a degree, diploma (2 years or longer), or graduate or post-graduate credential (1 year or longer) from a post-secondary learning institution in Canada within the last 3 years;
  • Must meet the language requirements of CLB/NCLC 5 in English or in French;
  • Must have a valid temporary resident status in Canada;
  • Must intend to live in a province or territory other than Quebec.

Stream B is open to former Hong Kong residents who have graduated from a post-secondary learning institution in Canada or abroad, and have at least one year of work experience in Canada. For those who graduated abroad, they will need to provide an educational credential assessment (ECA) to show that their foreign credential is equivalent to a Canadian post-secondary one. The candidate:

  • Must have graduated with a degree, diploma (2 years or longer), or graduate or post-graduate credential (1 year or longer) from a post-secondary learning institution in Canada or abroad, within the last 5 years;
  • Must have at least 1 year of work experience in Canada within the last 3 years;
  • Must meet the language requirements of CLB/NCLC 5 in English or in French;
  • Must have a valid temporary resident status in Canada;
  • Must intend to live in a province or territory other than Quebec.

As is the case with other Canadian immigration programs, under these two streams, principal applicants may also include spouses, partners and dependent children in Canada.

The principal applicant must have a passport issued by one of:

  • the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China;
  • the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas, as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong.

Language Requirements:

Candidates for both of these streams must meet the language proficiency requirement of a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 in English, or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) of 5 in French, in each of the four language skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing.


Open Work Permit for Hong Kong Graduates

Hongkongers can now apply for an open work permit. The open work permit is valid for up to 3 years. It offers Hong Kong residents the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience.

To be eligible you must:

  • hold a passport that is valid and issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas (BNO)
  • have graduated within the last 5 years. You must have obtained a university degree OR a diploma from a program of at least 2 years in duration. 

If you completed your education outside of Canada, you will need to obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). The purpose of the ECA is so that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can confirm your education is equivalent to a Canadian standard.

IRCC encourages you to make sure that your passport is valid for at least 3 years from the date that you receive an approval from IRCC. If your passport expires in less than 3 years, IRCC will provide you with a work permit that is valid for the same length of time as your passport.

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Working Holiday Program

Every year, tens of thousands of people from more than 30 countries come to work in Canada under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. Hong Kong is one of the countries that has a Working Holiday Agreement with Canada, which allows Hong Kong residents with a valid passport to temporarily work in Canada and change jobs and locations once they are in the country. IEC participants from Hong Kong may be issued an open work permit valid for up to 12 months.

To qualify for this immigration pathway, applicants must:

  • hold a valid passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or have a valid British National (Overseas) passport;
  • be between the ages of 18 and 30;
  • have a minimum of CAN$2,500 to cover costs in Canada;
  • have health insurance;
  • be admissible to Canada;
  • have a return ticket or demonstrate the ability to purchase a ticket at the end of the authorized stay in Canada.

Those interested in the program must first submit a profile on the government site when the registration period is open. Eligible applicants whose profile is in the pool may then be invited during one of the program's regular invitation rounds.


Other Economic Immigration Options

Residents of Hong Kong who wish to become permanent residents of Canada can choose from over 100 immigration pathways.

Express Entry is the main pathway to Canadian permanent residence. Express Entry ranks eligible applicants against each other based on human capital factors, and then invites the top-scoring candidates to apply for permanent residence. Candidates from Hong Kong may be well positioned to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry because of their high level of education and English language skills, which are particularly valuable factors on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS gives candidates points based on their age, education, language skills, work experience as well as other factors.

The second most popular immigration pathway is the Provincial Nominee Program. The PNP allows Canada’s provinces and territories to nominate candidates who wish to immigrate to Canada and reside in a particular province. More than 240,000 people are expected to get Canadian permanent residence through PNPs between now and 2023. Immigrant applicants with specific and sought-after skills, experience in key sectors, or previous Canadian work experience may wish to consider this option, as these factors are often the most important in determining the success of an application.

If you wish to live in Quebec, several other options are available to you. The province of Quebec is responsible for its own immigration programs, including those for skilled workers, and business people.

Spouses, partners and dependent children who are in Canada may be included in applications for permanent residence.

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Business Immigration Options

Hong Kongers with funds to invest in Canada also have several options available that may speed up their immigration process to Canada. Most Canadian provinces have their own business immigration programs for entrepreneurs under which you will be able to invest and operate a business in Canada.

If you are an immigrant with the experience and skills to start a business, have an innovative idea, and are interested in building ties with the private sector in Canada, you may also consider applying under the Start-up Visa Program.


Contact the Campbell Cohen Law Firm for Assistance

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